AUTHOR=Hsu Chun-Wei, Goh Joshua O. S.
TITLE=Distinct and Overlapping Brain Areas Engaged during Value-Based, Mathematical, and Emotional Decision Processing
JOURNAL=Frontiers in Human Neuroscience
VOLUME=10
YEAR=2016
PAGES=275
URL=https://www.frontiersin.org/article/10.3389/fnhum.2016.00275
DOI=10.3389/fnhum.2016.00275
ISSN=1662-5161
ABSTRACT=When comparing between the values of different choices, human beings can rely on either more cognitive processes, such as using mathematical computation, or more affective processes, such as using emotion. However, the neural correlates of how these two types of processes operate during value-based decision-making remain unclear. In this study, we investigated the extent to which neural regions engaged during value-based decision-making overlap with those engaged during mathematical and emotional processing in a within-subject manner. In a functional magnetic resonance imaging experiment, participants viewed stimuli that always consisted of numbers and emotional faces that depicted two choices. Across tasks, participants decided between the two choices based on the expected value of the numbers, a mathematical result of the numbers, or the emotional face stimuli. We found that all three tasks commonly involved various cortical areas including frontal, parietal, motor, somatosensory, and visual regions. Critically, the mathematical task shared common areas with the value but not emotion task in bilateral striatum. Although the emotion task overlapped with the value task in parietal, motor, and sensory areas, the mathematical task also evoked responses in other areas within these same cortical structures. Minimal areas were uniquely engaged for the value task apart from the other two tasks. The emotion task elicited a more expansive area of neural activity whereas value and mathematical task responses were in more focal regions. Whole-brain spatial correlation analysis showed that valuative processing engaged functional brain responses more similarly to mathematical processing than emotional processing. While decisions on expected value entail both mathematical and emotional processing regions, mathematical processes have a more prominent contribution particularly in subcortical processes.